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Springtime in Sarajevo May 14, 2016

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Old meets new and East meets West in Sarajevo. Mosques and tile roofs, pigeons and copper pots in Baščaršija; pashminas and high fashion in the Ferhadija. A photo collection.

Springtime in Sarajevo

Rocky Mountain National Park celebrates 100th Anniversary February 5, 2015

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Rocky 2

Tracy L. Barnett
Special to USA Today

It was January 1915, and big things were happening. Alexander Graham Bell made the first transcontinental phone call; the U.S. House of Representatives rejected an outlandish proposal to give women the vote; and the devastating Great War in Europe was making waves across the Atlantic, with the first U.S. ship lost to the war.

It was also the month that nearly a decade of organizing and lobbying on the part of a handful of Colorado citizens finally paid off with the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park, on January 26, 1915.

Rocky dedication

“Whenever one of these great parks has an anniversary, it’s a real cause for celebration and also a moment to remember with gratitude our elders who brought these parks into being in the first place,” said Lloyd Burton, professor and environmental policy scholar at the University of Denver. “They decided that it was really important to ensure the legacy of wild, beautiful places for future generations – particularly at a time when there were powerful forces at work that wanted to slice and dice and privatize them – and quite frankly, those forces haven’t gone away.”

Indeed, as the beloved park begins its second century, it faces a number of challenges to its integrity. Climate change, with its recurring droughts and high temperatures throughout the West, has weakened the forests and is believed to have exacerbated a pine beetle blight that has destroyed millions of acres of lodgepole and Ponderosa pine. Another factor weakening the forest has been fire suppression. “Before settlers the fire was the way the forest healed itself; but since we started to suppress the fires, the forest is getting sicker and sicker.”

Read the whole story and see the historic slideshow here

RELATED: See my Rocky Mountain National Park guide, here.

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Walls that Speak: Westside San Antonio's Murals February 20, 2014

Posted by Tracy in : San Antonio, Uncategorized , 5comments

Walls that Speak

By Tracy L. Barnett
Texas Journey magazine
March/April 2014

Deep in San Antonio’s Westside, at the corner of El Paso and Chupaderas streets, the 10-foot-tall face of Jesus overlooks a scrappy landscape, a world of sadness reflected in his weary brown eyes. For more
than a decade, the locals have come to this corner to pray.

There’s a story about this corner that artist Cruz Ortiz likes to tell, a story that’s been retold so often it’s become local lore. One time, Ortiz showed up at the mural and saw a woman resting against a nearby pole.

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“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I come here every Sunday,” she replied. “Because they won’t let me in at the church.”

That corner had become her church, her resting place, her place of hope.

On other corners in this neighborhood, people find stories of triumph and defeat, of musical legacy, of loved ones lost, and of celebrated heroes.
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Costa Alegre meets San Antonio January 31, 2014

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mermaids sunset

I was happy to see my story, Coasting Along the Costa Alegre, featured in the San Antonio Express-News this week, along with Cuixmala, Resting Place of the Soul.

It was followed by a heartwarming writeup by my former editor, Terry Scott Bertling, together with a slide show of my photos from the Costa Alegre, in her blog, Here and There.

Thank you, Terry!

Mixtli: A culinary journey through the heart of Mexico January 30, 2014

Posted by Tracy in : Food, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far

Mixtli

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — It was only the second night that they were open for business, and the two young chefs worked madly. Barely had they had a chance to break in their new cookware when the news came: They were to have three icons of Latin American cuisine at their table: Rick Bayless of Frontera in Chicago, Maricel Presilla from Cucharamama in New Jersey, and Roberto Santibanez from La Fonda in New York City, accompanied by the Culinary Institute of America’s Latin Cuisines Advisory Board – the leadership from Diego’s own alma mater.

“That was incredibly nerve-racking,” confesses Mixtli co-founder Diego Galicia. “Trial by fire.”

The pair passed the test with flying colors; the room full of chefs ate and drank their fill, admiring the various offerings and conversing and sharing until nearly 1 a.m.
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Coasting along the Costalegre: Puerto Vallarta January 16, 2014

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PV1

Part 6 of a series

PV2Driving up from the south in the golden light before sunset, we were entranced with the undulating highway hugging the cliffs and opening out to spectacular views of rocky, dramatic seashore. We passed Mismaloya, where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s steamy romance was captured for posterity in Night of the Iguana; past the little seaside villages where fishermen still cast their nets from wooden boats; plunged into the crowded cobbled streets of Old Puerto Vallarta with its jumbled mix of modernity and antiquity – Starbucks-meets-Maria the Taco Lady, on a grand scale. Later we’d immerse ourselves in the heart of this, but tonight we were headed straight through the city to the hotel zone on the other side, to a soaring white all-inclusive resort on the Marina called Vamar Vallarta.
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Coasting along the Costalegre: Costa Careyes January 2, 2014

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Copa 1
Part 5 of a series

From the land, the cryptic entrance sign says it all: a question mark, followed by an exclamation point.

From the sea, the first thing I noticed was a strange inverted dome perched atop a narrow tongue of land, a crystal-studded cup opening skyward upon a bridge of wave-pounded cliffs. La Copa del Sol, it’s called, and it’s the brainchild of the same visionary who created the lavish dwellings tucked along this 22-kilometer stretch of coast known as Costa Careyes.
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Coasting along the Costalegre: Cuixmala, the Soul’s Resting Place December 26, 2013

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Healing retreats, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability, Uncategorized , add a comment

La Loma

Part 4 of a series

This fairyland of Moorish-style villas scattered about on a 25,000-acre nature preserve was once the private hideaway of British multimillionaire-turned-conservationist Sir James Goldsmith. The late Goldsmith’s family decided to open the estate to guests and the low-profile, exclusive resort has been visited by the likes of Madonna and Tom Cruise.

I’d received an invitation to visit this off-the-map retreat center, or I’d never have known about it. Had we seen nothing else on our journey along the Costalegre, our escape to Cuixmala would have been well worth the trip.
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Coasting along the Costalegre: Cuastecomates to Boca de Iguanas December 18, 2013

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Cuastecomates

Part 2 of a series

A tunnel of green arched overhead as we made our way along the wild and winding stretch of road leading toward the coast from the main highway. The tiny town finally emerged into view; it was the same precious village we’d seen from the sea when we went snorkeling. Like many of the towns along the Costalegre, there’s not a lot here, aside from a lineup of palapa-covered restaurants, a single hotel and a spectacular beach, enclosed by two imposing, granite outcroppings. But what more could a vacationer want?

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Adventure meets elegance in Barra de Navidad October 30, 2013

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Mexico, Nature tourism, Uncategorized , 2comments

Barra banana boat

BARRA DE NAVIDAD, Jalisco, Mexico – The crashing waves and a gentle breeze serve as the backdrop for an Italian opera here at the expansive Bar de los Chicanos, atop the elegant Hotel Alondra. When we first arrived, it was a rousing salsa set, a hopeful bid to fill the ample dance floor overlooking the sea; but seeing that today’s Hora Feliz (Happy Hour) clients were writers and conversationalists and loungers rather than dancers, the accommodating bartender changed the tune.

It’s like that, here on the Costalegre, Mexico’s “Happy Coast.” Whatever your mood, you can find the circumstance, but more likely than not, it will be laid back – particularly at this time of year, when the heat obliges one to take a more contemplative pace.

I came here with my sister Toni in October, before the beginning of high season and just at the end of hurricane season. News of the Category 3 Hurricane Raymond closing in on the coast of poor sodden Acapulco, struggling to recover from last month’s Hurricane Manuel, definitely puts a damper on our plans to mosey up the stretch of coast from Barra on up to Puerto Vallarta, exploring the villages and beaches that make up the Costalegre.
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